Split vs Splitted: Understanding the Correct Past Tense of Split

  • Split” is the correct past tense and past participle form of the verb.
  • The verb “split” is an irregular verb, deviating from standard conjugation patterns.
  • Mastery of common irregular verbs like “split” is crucial for English language proficiency.

In the English language, the verb “split” often causes confusion when it comes to its past tense form. Many learners stumble over the question: is it “split” or “splitted”? This topic dives into the past tense of “split,” providing clarity on its correct usage. “Split” is considered an irregular verb, which means it does not follow a standard pattern of conjugation often found in verbs ending with “-ed.”

Split vs Splitted – What’s the past tense of split?

The verb itself is versatile, used to describe the action of dividing or breaking something into parts or separating into groups.

Correct Usage

In English, irregular verbs often cause confusion, but “split” is one such verb where the past tense is the same as the present tense. Here’s how it is correctly used:

  • Infinitive: to split
  • Past Tense: split
  • Past Participle: split

Table of Incorrect vs. Correct Usage

He splitted the bill.He split the bill.
We had splitted into teams.We had split into teams.

Common Mistakes

Be mindful of these errors that learners often make when using the verb “split”:

  • Attempting to add the common past tense ending “-ed”
  • Misusing “splitted” in formal writing or speaking

The Verdict

Although “splitted” might be heard in various dialects or in informal contexts, it is not standard. The correct form to use is “split” for both the past tense and past participle. Understanding and applying these rules helps ensure clear and effective communication.

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Grammatical Rules and Usage of “spit”

In English grammar, the word “spit” presents itself as an irregular verb, complicating its conjugation in various tenses.

Verb Forms of “spit”

The verb “spit” encompasses several forms based on the tense and the function within a sentence:

  • Present Tense: spit (e.g., “She spits onto the ground.”)
  • Simple Past Tense: spit/spat (e.g., “He spit/spat out the bad taste.”)
  • Past Participle Form: spit/spat (e.g., “They have spit/spat on the ground.”)

Understanding Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs, including “spit,” do not follow standard conjugation patterns. Typically, regular verbs form their past tense and past participle by adding -ed or -d to the base form. “Spit,” however, changes—or remains the same—irregularly, which can cause confusion.

The Past and Past Participle Forms of Split

For the verb “spit,” both “spit” and “spat” are acceptable as the past tense and past participle in English. Usage can vary regionally, with “spat” being more common in British English, while “spit” is often used in American English.

Simple Pastspit/spat
Past Participlespit/spat

Examples: The Past and Past Participle Forms of Split

Using “spit” in sentences requires choosing the correct tense and form:

  • “Yesterday, the toddler spat/spit out his vegetables.”
  • “She has never spat/spit in public before.”
  • “If you spat/spit on the sidewalk, you might get fined.”

In each instance, both “spit” and “spat” serve as the simple past and past participle forms.

Synonyms of ‘split’

In discussing the term split, it is useful to consider its synonyms which convey similar meanings. Recognizing such synonyms not only enhances vocabulary but also aids in understanding the various contexts in which split can be employed.

Divide: At its core, to split something means to divide it into parts. This synonym carries the implication of separation into distinct sections or groups.

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Separate: When something is split, it is also separated from a larger whole into smaller segments, making “separate” a key synonym for split.

Factionalize: In a more specific context, to split can also mean to cause a group to break into factions, which is encapsulated in the term “factionalize”.

Partition: When discussing the division of areas or countries, “partition” is often used as an alternative to split, signaling a formal or official division.

Cleave: An older or more literary synonym for split is “cleave”, which can be used in contexts where something is split or divided with force.

Dissect: Mostly in scientific contexts, when splitting an entity into its constituent parts for study, “dissect” is a synonym that implies careful and detailed division.

Here is a simplistic view of the synonyms, categorized by usage contexts:

General UseSpecific Contexts

And some examples of the terms in bullet points:

  • Divide the cake equally among the children.
  • They chose to separate and live independently.
  • The committee was factionalized due to differing opinions.
  • After the war, the country was partitioned.
  • He cleft the log with a single swing of his axe.
  • The biologist dissected the sample to study the cells.

Idioms with ‘Split’

In the English language, idioms play a crucial role in everyday communication. These phrases, often with meanings that cannot be deduced from the individual words, paint the language with color and expression. The word “split” figures into a number of idiomatic expressions, which are typically used in more informal contexts. Here we explore a few idioms that incorporate the term “split.”

Splitting hairs

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Use caseMeaning
Not worth splitting hairs overBeing overly concerned with trivial distinctions

This idiom suggests a behavior that involves arguing about very small differences or unimportant details.

Split the difference

Negotiating a dealTo settle on an amount that is halfway between two proposed sums

In negotiations, when two parties “split the difference,” they agree to compromise and meet each other in the middle.

  • Split second

    A “split second” refers to an extremely short period of time, emphasizing urgency or a very brief moment.

  • To split one’s sides laughing

    To laugh extremely hard or uncontrollably is to “split one’s sides.”

In these idioms, “split” is used figuratively, representing division or separation, but extending to various situational nuances. The flexibility of “split” in idiomatic expressions reflects the diversity and creativity inherent in the English language.

Origin of the word ‘split’

The term split has a rich etymology stemming from the Old English word ‘splitten,’ which found its origins in the Middle Dutch word ‘splitten’ and the Proto-Germanic root ‘*splītanan.’ Over the centuries, it has retained a consistent meaning related to the division of objects into parts.

The transition of the word through various languages is as follows:

  • Proto-Germanic: ‘*splītanan’
  • Middle Dutch: ‘splitten’
  • Old English: ‘splitten’

In linguistic terms, split is classified as an irregular verb in the English language. This indicates that its conjugation doesn’t follow the typical pattern of adding ‘-ed’ to form its past tense and past participle.

Past Participlesplit

The verb split expresses the act of separating something into two or more parts or portions, often by force. Split has maintained its spelling and pronunciation throughout its usage in historical English literature and remains unchanged in contemporary use.

Key usage points include:

  • Present Tense: I/he/she/it splits
  • Simple Past: I/he/she/it split
  • Past Participle: split (used with have/has/had)

The evolution of the word has witnessed little change in its form, making it an example of the stability in the English lexicon, especially among its irregular verbs. Despite variations in pronunciation across regions, the written form ‘split’ has remained consistent throughout its usage.


Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of split.” Online Etymology Dictionary

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